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Twitter (Online Social Networking website Full Details)

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Default Twitter (Online Social Networking website Full Details)

Twitter, Inc
Type Private
Founded San Francisco, California, United States
Founder Jack Dorsey
Evan Williams
Biz Stone
Headquarters 795 Folsom St., Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94107[1], United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Jack Dorsey (Chairman)
Evan Williams (CEO)
Biz Stone (Creative Director)
Revenue $400,000 Q3 (2009) (projected)[2]
Employees 141[3]
Slogan What's happening?
Website www.twitter.com
Alexa rank 11 (August 2010)[4]
Type of site mobile social network service, microblogging
Registration Required
Users 190 million (visitors monthly)[5]
Available in Multilingual
English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, and Italian
Launched July 15, 2006[6]
Current status Active

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., that enables its users to send and read other users' messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page. Tweets are publicly visible by default, however senders can restrict message delivery to their friends list. Users may subscribe to other author tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers. As of late 2009, users can follow lists of authors instead of following individual authors. All users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, compatible external applications (such as, for smartphones), or by Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain countries. While the service is free, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees. The website is based in San Bruno, California near San Francisco (where the website was first based). Twitter also has servers and offices in San Antonio, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide and currently has more than 100 million users worldwide.[10] It is sometimes described as the "SMS of the Internet."[11] The use of Twitter's application programming interface (API) for sending and receiving SMS from other applications often dominates the direct use of Twitter.

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A blueprint sketch, circa 2006, by Jack Dorsey, envisioning an SMS-based social network.

Twitter's origins lie in a "daylong brainstorming session" that was held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. During the meeting, Jack Dorsey introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group, a concept partially inspired by the SMS group messaging service TXTMob.[12]
[W]e came across the word "twitter," and it was just perfect. The definition was "a short burst of inconsequential information," and "chirps from birds." And that’s exactly what the product was.
—Jack Dorsey[13]
The original project code name for the service was twttr, inspired by Flickr and the five character length of American SMS short codes. The developers initially considered "10958″ as a short code, but later changed it to "40404″ for "ease of use and memorability."[12] Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr."[14]

The first Twitter prototype was used as an internal service for Odeo employees and the full version was introduced publicly on July 15, 2006.[6] In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets–including Odeo.com and Twitter.com–from the investors and shareholders.[15] Twitter spun off into its own company in April 2007.[16]
The tipping point for Twitter's popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. During the event Twitter usage increased from 20,000 tweets per day to 60,000.[17] "The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages," remarked Newsweek's Steven Levy. "Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it."[18] Reaction at the festival was highly positive. Blogger Scott Beale said that Twitter "absolutely rul[ed]" SXSW. Social software researcher Danah Boyd said Twitter "own[ed]" the festival.[19] Twitter staff received the festival's Web Award prize with the remark "we'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!"[20]

Twitter had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. By the end of 2009, 2 billion tweets per quarter were being posted.[citation needed] By March 2010, Twitter recorded a over 70,000 registered applications, according to the company.[21] In February 2010 that Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day.[22] In the first quarter of 2010, 4 billion tweets were posted.[citation needed] As of June 2010, about 65 million tweets are posted each day, equalling about 750 tweets sent each second, according to Twitter.[23]

Twitter's usage spikes during prominent events. For example, a record was set during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when fans wrote 2,940 tweets per second in the 30 second period after Japan scored against Cameroon on 14 June 2010. The record was broken again when 3,085 tweets a second were posted after the Los Angeles Lakers' victory in the 2010 NBA Finals on 17 June 2010.[24]

Twitter acquired application developer Atebits on April 11, 2010. Atebits had developed the Apple Design Award winning Twitter client Tweetie for Mac and iPhone. The application, now called "Twitter" and distributed free of charge, is the official Twitter client for the iPhone.[25]

Technology author Steven Johnson describes the basic mechanics of Twitter as "remarkably simple:"[26]
As a social network, Twitter revolves around the principle of followers. When you choose to follow another Twitter user, that user's tweets appear in reverse chronological order on your main Twitter page. If you follow 20 people, you'll see a mix of tweets scrolling down the page: breakfast-cereal updates, interesting new links, music recommendations, even musings on the future of education.
Twitter has been compared to a web-based Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client.[27]

Users can group posts together by topic or type by use of hashtags — words or phrases prefixed with a #.[28] Similarly, the letter d followed by a username allows users to send messages privately. Finally, the @ sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users.[29]

In late 2009, the "Twitter Lists" feature was added, making it possible for users to follow (as well as mention and reply to) lists of authors instead of individual authors.[7][8]
Through SMS, users can communicate with Twitter through five gateway numbers: short codes for the United States, Canada, India, New Zealand, and an Isle of Man-based number for international use. There is also a short code in the United Kingdom which is only accessible to those on the Vodafone, O2[30] and Orange[31] networks. In India, since Twitter only supports tweets from Bharti Airtel,[32] an alternative platform called smsTweet[33] was set up by a user to work on all networks.[34] A similar platform called GladlyCast[35] exists for mobile phone users in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The messages were initially set to 140-character limit for compatibility with SMS messaging, introducing the shorthand notation and slang commonly used in SMS messages. The 140 character limit has also increased the usage of URL shortening services such as bit.ly, goo.gl, and tr.im, and content hosting services, such as Twitpic, memozu.com and NotePub to accommodate multimedia content and text longer than 140 characters. Twitter uses bit.ly for automatic shortening of all URLs posted on its website.[36]

Tweet contents

Content of Tweets according to Pear Analytics.

San Antonio-based market research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the US and in English) over a 2-week period in August 2009 from 11:00a to 5:00p (CST) and separated them into six categories:[37]
  • Pointless babble — 41%
  • Conversational — 38%
  • Pass-along value — 9%
  • Self-promotion — 6%
  • Spam — 4%
  • News — 4%[37]
Social networking researcher Danah Boyd responded to the Pear Analytics survey by arguing that what the Pear researchers labelled "pointless babble" is better characterized as "social grooming" and/or "peripheral awareness" (which she explains as persons "want[ing] to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable").[38]

Twitter is ranked as one of the 15 most visited websites worldwide by Alexa's web traffic analysis.[39] Daily user estimates vary because the company does not release the number of active accounts. A February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.[40] In March 2009, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing website in the Member Communities category for February 2009. Twitter had a monthly growth of 1,382%, followed by Zimbio with 240% increase, and Facebook with 228% increase.[41] However, only 40% of Twitter's users are retained.[42]

Adding and following content
There are numerous tools for adding content, monitoring content and conversations including Tweetdeck, Salesforce.com, HootSuite, and Twitterfeed.[43]. Less than half of tweets are posted using the web user interface with most users using third-party applications (based on analysis of 500 million tweets by Sysomos).[44]

Twitter is mainly used by older adults who might not have used other social sites before Twitter, says Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst studying social media. "Adults are just catching up to what teens have been doing for years," he said.[45] According to comScore only 11% of Twitter's users are aged 12 to 17.[45] comScore attributes this to Twitter's "early adopter period" when the social network first gained popularity in business settings and news outlets attracting primarily older users. However, comScore as of late, has noted that as Twitter has begun to "filter more into the mainstream, along with it came a culture of celebrity as Shaq, Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher joined the ranks of the Twitterati."[46]

According to a study by Sysomos in June 2009, women make up a slightly larger Twitter demographic than men — 53% over 47%. It also stated that 5% of users accounted for 75% of all activity, and that New York has the most Twitter users.[47]


Twitter's San Francisco headquarters located at 795 Folsom St.

Twitter raised over US$57 million from venture capitalist growth funding, although exact numbers are not publicly disclosed. Twitter's first A round of funding was for an undisclosed amount that is rumored to have been between $1 million and $5 million.[48] Its second B round of funding in 2008 was for $22 million[49] and its third C round of funding in 2009 was for $35 million from Institutional Venture Partners and Benchmark Capital along with an undisclosed amount from other investors including Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital and Insight Venture Partners.[48] Twitter is backed by Union Square Ventures, Digital Garage, Spark Capital, and Bezos Expeditions.[50]

The Industry Standard has remarked that Twitter's long-term viability is limited by a lack of revenue.[51] Twitter board member Todd Chaffee forecast that the company could profit from e-commerce, noting that users may want to buy items directly from Twitter since it already provides product recommendations and promotions.[52]

On April 13, 2010, Twitter announced plans to offer paid advertising for companies that would be able to purchase "promoted tweets" to appear in selective search results on the Twitter website, similar to Google Adwords' advertising model. As of April 13, Twitter announced it had already signed up a number of companies wishing to advertise including Sony Pictures, Red Bull, Best Buy, and Starbucks.[53][54]

Some of Twitter's revenue and user growth documents were illegally published on TechCrunch by the hacker Croll Hacker. The documents projected company's 2009 revenues of $400,000 in the third quarter and $4 million in the fourth quarter along with 25 million users by the end of the year. The projections for the end of 2013 were $1.54 billion in revenue, $111 million in net earnings, and 1 billion users.[2] No information about how Twitter plans to achieve those numbers has been published. In response, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone published a blog post suggesting the possibility of legal action against the hacker.[55]



The Twitter Web interface uses the Ruby on Rails framework,[56] deployed on a performance enhanced Ruby Enterprise Edition implementation of Ruby.[57]
From the spring of 2007 until 2008 the messages were handled by a Ruby persistent queue server called Starling[58] but since 2009 implementation has been gradually replaced with software written in Scala.[59] The service's application programming interface (API) allows other web services and applications to integrate with Twitter.[60][61]

On April 30, 2009, Twitter adjusted its web interface, adding a search bar and a sidebar of "trending topics" — the most common phrases appearing in messages. Biz Stone explains that all messages are instantly indexed and that "with this newly launched feature, Twitter has become something unexpectedly important — a discovery engine for finding out what is happening right now
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The Twitter fail whale error message.

When Twitter experiences an outage, users see the "fail whale" error message image created by Yiying Lu, illustrating several red birds using a net to hoist a whale from the ocean captioned "Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again." Twitter had approximately 98% uptime in 2007 (or about six full days of downtime).[65] The downtime was particularly noticeable during events popular with the technology industry such as the 2008 Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address.[66][67] During May 2008 Twitter's new engineering team made architectural changes to deal with the scale of growth. Stability issues resulted in down time or temporary feature removal.

In August 2008, Twitter withdrew free SMS services from users in the United Kingdom[68] and for approximately five months instant messaging support via a XMPP bot was listed as being "temporarily unavailable".[69] On October 10, 2008, Twitter's status blog announced that instant messaging (IM) service was no longer a temporary outage and needed to be revamped. It was announced that Twitter aims to return its IM service pending necessary major work.[70]

On June 12, 2009, in what was called a potential "Twitpocalypse", the unique numerical identifier associated with each tweet exceeded the limit of 32-bit signed integers (2,147,483,647 total messages).[71] While Twitter itself was not affected, some third-party clients could no longer access recent tweets. Patches were quickly released, though some iPhone applications had to wait for approval from the App Store.[72] On September 22, the identifier exceeded the limit for 32-bit unsigned integers (4,294,967,296 total messages) again breaking some third-party clients.[73]

On August 6, 2009, Twitter and Facebook suffered from a denial-of-service attack, causing the Twitter website to go offline for several hours.[74] It was later confirmed that the attacks were directed at one pro-Georgian user around the anniversary of the 2008 South Ossetia War, rather than the sites themselves.[75] A hacking attack on 17 December 2009 replaced the website's welcoming screen with an image of a green flag and the caption "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army" for nearly an hour. No connection between the hackers and Iran has been established.[76]

Privacy and security
Twitter collects personally identifiable information about its users and shares it with third parties. The service reserves the right to sell this information as an asset if the company changes hands.[77] While Twitter displays no advertising, advertisers can target users based on their history of tweets and may quote tweets in ads.[78]

A security vulnerability was reported on April 7, 2007, by Nitesh Dhanjani and Rujith. Since Twitter used the phone number of the sender of an SMS message as authentication, malicious users could update someone else's status page by using SMS spoofing.[79] The vulnerability could be used if the spoofer knew the phone number registered to their victim's account. Within a few weeks of this discovery Twitter introduced an optional personal identification number (PIN) that its users could use to authenticate their SMS-originating messages.[80]

On January 5, 2009, 33 high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised after a Twitter administrator's password was guessed by a dictionary attack.[81] Falsified tweets — including ***ually explicit and drug-related messages — were sent from these accounts.[82]

Twitter launched the beta version of their "Verified Accounts" service on June 11, 2009, allowing famous or notable people to announce their Twitter account name. The home pages of these accounts display a badge indicating their status.[83]

In May 2010, a bug was discovered that allowed users to force others to follow them without the other user's knowledge. For example, comedian Conan O'Brien's account which had been set to follow only one person was changed to receive nearly 200 malicious subscriptions.[84]

In response to Twitter's security breaches, the Federal Trade Commission brought charges against the service which were settled on June 24, 2010. This was the first time the FTC had taken action against a social network for security lapses. The settlement requires Twitter to take a number of steps to secure users' private information including maintenance of a "comprehensive information security program" to be independently audited biannually.[85]

Open source
Twitter released several open source projects developed while overcoming technical challenges of their service.[86] Notable projects are the Gizzard Scala framework for creating distributed datastores and the distributed graph database FlockDB.


Change of focus

A new mobile version of twitter.com

Twitter emphasized their news and information network strategy in November 2009 by changing the question asked users for status updates from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening?".[87][88] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Limiting yourself to 140 characters—the maximum for messages on this diabolically addictive social-networking tool—is easy."[89]

The Wall Street Journal wrote that social-networking services such as Twitter "elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel 'too' connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they're having for dinner."[90] "Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad", said tech writer Bruce Sterling.[91] "For many people, the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd," hypothesized writer Clive Thompson. "Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb?

The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme—the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world."[92] On the other hand Steve Dotto opines that part of Twitter's appeal is the challenge of trying to publish such messages in tight constraints.[93] "The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful," says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School.[94]

Nielsen Online reports that Twitter has a user retention rate of 40%. Many people stop using the service after a month therefore the site may potentially reach only about 10% of all Internet users.[95] In 2009, Twitter won the "Breakout of the Year" Webby Award.

During a February 2009 discussion on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, Daniel Schorr noted that Twitter accounts of events lacked rigorous fact-checking and other editorial improvements. In response, Andy Carvin gave Schorr two examples of breaking news stories that played out on Twitter and said users wanted first-hand accounts and sometimes debunked stories.

In an episode of The Daily Show on February 26, 2009, guest Brian Williams described tweets as only referring to the condition of the author. Williams implied that he would never use Twitter because nothing he did was interesting enough to publish in Twitter format.[99] During another episode of The Daily Show on March 2, 2009, host Jon Stewart negatively portrayed members of Congress who chose to "tweet" during President Obama's address to Congress (on February 24, 2009) rather than pay attention to the content of the speech. The show's Samantha Bee satirized media coverage of the service saying "there's no surprise young people love it — according to reports of young people by middle-aged people."

In March 2009, the comic strip Doonesbury began to satirize Twitter. Many characters highlighted the triviality of tweets although one defended the need to keep up with the constant-update trend.[101] SuperNews! similarly satirized Twitter as an addiction to "constant self-affirmation" and said tweets were nothing more than "shouts into the darkness hoping someone is listening".

In August 2010, South Korea tried to block Twitter due to the North Korean government opening a Twitter account.[103]The North Korean Twitter account created on August 12, @uriminzok, loosely translated to mean "our people" in Korean, acquired over 4,500 followers in less than one week. On August 19, 2010, South Korea's state-run Communications Standards Commission banned the Twitter account for broadcasting "illegal information." [104] According to BBC US and Canada, experts claim that North Korea has invested in "information technology for more than 20 years" with knowledge of how to use social networking sites to their power[105] This appears to be "nothing new" for North Korea as the reclusive country has always published propaganda in its press, usually against South Korea, calling them "warmongers." [106] With only 36 tweets, the Twitter account was able to accumulate almost 9,000 followers. To date, the South Korean Commission has banned 65 sites, including this Twitter account.
  • Ambient Awareness
  • Comparison of microblogging services
  • List of Twitter services and applications
  • Twitter usage
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